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Consistent and powerful heavy metal - 89%

CrystalMountain, March 21st, 2009

While not quite as good as the master piece that was Digital Dictator, Welcome to the Ball is still a high quality slab of pure heavy metal. I haven't heard the S/T album yet, so I can't speak for that. But there aren't many changes here from DD, except a couple minor ones. The production has improved quite a bit, and sounds crystal clear, it's damn near immaculate. The songs are generally faster than on DD, all though they do slow way down with a couple of (awesome)ballads. But for the most part, the album is straight up speed metal, even surprisingly thrashy at times. The drumming is also a step up, I found it to be pretty basic before, but there's lots of nice and fast beats on here. Carl Albert is still in fine form, he even adds a new layer to his voice, a sort of David Wayne/Blitz snarl. He still hits all the notes(though not as many screams,) and he hasn't lost the ability to make a chorus really come to life.

"Abandoned" blasts out of the gate with a frenzy, this song is just pure heavy metal at it's finest. Fast guitars, aggressive screaming vocals, catchy chorus. A suitable opener and one of the best on the album. "You Only Live Twice" has a very thrashy main riff, and that Iron Maiden style chorus that sticks to you like glue. "Children" is the albums first ballad, and it is really fucking great. It's not your typical soft ballad, there's no acoustic guitar here. It churns along at a slow speed, with Carl Albert sounding absolutely amazing. "Dust to Dust" starts off soft but rips into a heavy driving rhythm, some good drum work and great lead playing, great chorus. Probably my favorite song on the album. "Six Stepsisters" is really fucking fast and heavy, it sounds like an Overkill song. Awesome pre-chours and chorus vocals, makes you wonder how the guy can sing in all the different ways he does and still sound flawless. "When Love Comes Down" is the true ballad of the album, it's much more conventional than "Children." Carl Albert shows more versatility, singing in a soft and emotional tone, he sounds strikingly similar to Sebastian Bach(dammit how does this guy do all these different vocal styles) at times. Powerful, emotional, and ridiculously catchy.

The album does have it's faults though, all though they are minor. First and foremost, the main problem I have is that there are no really killer tracks. There aren't any songs like "The Crest" or "Minute to Kill" that stick to you immediately and you wanna go back and listen to them over and over. Maybe the 2 ballads would fit that category, but I'm not sure about that. Secondly, the lyrics are still struggling. That has never been the bands strong point, all though they are a little better than on DD. That's about all the complaints I have though really. This is a very consistent album, no filler at all, just maybe a lack of truly great songs. If you liked Digital Dictator you will surely like this one.

American Power Metal at it's fuckin' best! - 91%

sAlex, February 8th, 2009

American Power Metal at it's fuckin' best! That's just what this piece of art here is. Tight, heavy and crunchy with the "in your face" attitude that hits you right from the beginning, this baby simply grabs you by the balls. This was the very first thing I heard from the brilliance that is (or better - was) Vicious Rumors and believe me, I am one happy camper for not letting this piece of history pass me by.

To those who aren't familiar with this Bay Area act, Vicious Rumors are a band formed right at the start of the 80's scene, they recorded demos in the early days but they've only managed to record their first album - "Soldiers Of the Night" in 1986 with Garry St. Pierre of Marty Friedman's "Hawaii" fame on vocals. They, however, still weren't able to completely develop their potential until the arrival of the late Carl "The Voice" Albert. The guy, genius as he was, brought the sound and the term "to sing" to a whole new level and from that point on, the era of VR's greatest achievements began.

Welcome to the Ball is the peak of VR's achievements in my opinion.
The album is, as said before, tight right from the start with the first track "Abandoned" setting the tone for the rest of the album. Riffs are there, solos really deserve to be called by that name, rhythm section more than just keeps the high pace and the vocal performance of Carl Albert is still somehow unmatched, unpaired to this day. The album continues to deliver piece by piece, song by song. We have here faster, heavier songs like "You only live twice", "Savior from anger", "Raise your hands", "Six Stepsisters" and "Ends of the earth", insanely tight songs bordering a bit on thrash, but this ain't no thrash, this is just pure POWER man, fucking power metal. Now don't confuse this term with your European sugar-soaked German and Italian bands like Gamma Ra or similar. This is metal with balls, fast, crunchy but still melodic thanks to the vocal presence of "The Voice" Albert that really keeps the ball rolling here.

On the other hand we have here the MTV aired "Children", a power ballad that once again does not fail to deliver. This stuff is straight from the heart and one cannot fail to hear it, no cheesy bullshit here. Same goes for "Love comes down", this is fuckin' beautiful high rate stuff, and these things don't come often so well executed as they are here. All the credit of course goes to the magnificent singer, Carl Albert. Sure, riffs and solos are the absolute solid backbone here, guitars shred and the really super executed soloing cannot be denied but the thing that really brings it to another level is "The Voice". A top notch performance from an overall one of the, if not THE best singer in the scene. And you gotta know that it ain't an easy task to deserve a title like this. Just check out the first song to understand what I mean.

Why this album doesn't receive as much praise as it should is simply beyond me. The production is great, songs are brilliantly structured and the whole picture just builds up by the minute. A metal fan of 80's thrash, heavy stuff should be obliged to check this out. An absolute winner.

This could make the sun explode - 90%

Xeogred, March 15th, 2007

After their hugely disappointing self-titled release, Vicious Rumors return to form better than ever with this album. I can never decide which album is my all time favorite from them, but I usually lean towards this release. It may not be as dark as Soldiers of the Night, or as straight forward and fast as Digital Dictator, but the energy and emotion jam packed into this disc is absolutely overwhelming. This album is extremely sad at times, aggressive and catchy, maybe even angry at times, and just downright moving. This is hands down their most emotional performance. The atmosphere is as strong as ever and all over the place here.

The lineup is thankfully still the same as the previous two albums. Carl Albert's (RIP) vocals here are hands down his best, and its not like he's already been explosive enough. This gives vocalists like Bruce Dickinson and whatnot a run for their money, easily. Albert's vocals are empowering throughout this whole album, and definitely sets the mood for each and every song perfectly. Whether its an upbeat one or a depressive one. He makes it happen. As top notch as Albert's performance is here, he isn't the only one that makes this album nearly perfect. Both guitarists Geoff Thorpe and Mark McGhee put out some of their best solo's here, mesmerizing and out of this world. The guitars are also a powerful "intro force" with many of the songs as well, "Children" and "Dust to Dust" come to mind here. There's also the use of acoustics from time to time that blend perfectly with the themes and the music. Both bass guitars by Dave Starr and the drums by Larry Howe are top notch as well here. This would be an empty vessel without the bass, and wouldn't be overpowering without the perfectly balanced drums.

I've heard a lot of upbeat power metal out there, but this thing actually has some incredible riffs and solo's, extremely memorable lyrics and themes, and can be aggressive and moody when needed. The energetic performance here is completely off the wall and hardly rivaled. There is simply no low point to this album at all. There's too many standout tracks to begin mentioning. From the beginning and to the end, you'll be on an emotional ride for your life.

A very quick track by track analysis. "Abandoned" starts the album off perfectly with the typical and perfected VR sound. "You Only Live Twice" starts off with one of those great guitar driven intro's, speeds things up and has an extremely catchy chorus, topped off with a completely out of this world solo that'll put you in a trance. "Savior From Anger" is a simpler catchy and upbeat song. "Children" is merely flawless, one of their most emotional songs ever. A mid-paced yet ever so moving song that just seems to keep building up and throws out nothing but emotions at you, with a powerful solo segment and the middle part sounding a bit like Live and Let Die! "Dust to Dust" starts off with a guitar again, and has its powerful moving moments as well. "Raise Your Hands" is one of the more darker and atmospheric songs, sounds a bit like something you could have heard on Soldiers of the Night. Albert completely controls this one. "Strange Behavior" is an odd mid-paced song, not as much of a standout track as the others but still good. "Six Stepsisters" is another one of the faster tracks here and the vocals sound like a monster, Albert completely steals the show again. "Mastermind" is another somewhat more darker and mid-paced venture, with yet another mesmerizing solo. "When Love Comes Down" is a packed with nothing but sadness, slow at times, but never really has that cheese factor glam had. "Ends of the Earth" pretty much does what my title for this review states, makes the sun explode and causes Earth to explode in this masterful work here.

Really, thats just like blowing out the candles and not even getting to the cake yet. This is something a lot of power metal bands should take note of and use as a perfect example to the style. You can't go wrong with this album at all. If you have yet to hear anything by this incredible band, Welcome to the Ball would be the perfect album to start with, and its luckily one of their easier to find releases. The level of energy, emotion, and atmosphere here is hardly reached by others. Hands down a pure classic.

Heavy, power, thrash...and fresh ! - 95%

Wally, October 10th, 2005

This is a very solid and powerful album, it is on the borderline of the strongest power/heavy metal and an elaborate thrash.The clear and forceful voice of Carl Albert (R.I.P.) leads the way and together with the technical guitar riffs of Geoff Thorpe and Mark McGhee make some melodic and easy to remember pieces of art .And I don't want to be unfair not to mention the mighty bass performance of Dave Starr and the rhythm machine perfectly operated by Larry Howe.
It is all present here, from the fast and furious songs, like "Abandoned", "You only live twice" or "Six stepsisters", continuing with mid-tempo (and with a certain progressive atmosphere) songs like "Children" and "Mastermind" and ending with a nice metal ballad like "When love comes down".
On the whole, listening to this album kind of reminds me of the early Metal Church albums...But I think it's only an impression because they definitely got their personal touch which you can feel on all their albums.